Home Rule Movement (1916) | Reason, Objective, Nature, Significance and Impact

Home Rule Movement (1916)
Image: Home Rule Movement (1916)

Home Rule movement was launched in 1916 under the leadership of Nationalist leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mrs. Annie Besant. It was one of the most important Nationalist Movements in the history of the Indian struggle against British rule.

The launching of this movement triggered a new series of development which ultimately culminated in the Liberation of India from British rule in 1947.

Table of Content

  1. Why was Home Rule Movement launched?
  2. Aims and Objective of Home Rule movement
  3. Nature of Home Rule movement
  4. British reaction to Home Rule League
  5. Significance and Impact of Home Rule Movement in India

Why was Home Rule Movement launched?

  1. The launching of the Home Rule movement was a responsive reaction to the political and economic environment prevailing in India. The colonial character of British rule in India was fundamentally responsible for the launching of the Home Rule movement.
  2. The British rule in India was colonial, despotic, racist, insensible, and unfeeling, alien, expansionist, Immoral, and unethical. It was guided by the British interest. Every section of the Indian population was exploited by the British.
  3. The discontent produced by this exploitation came out in the form of various revolts and Mass agitation. The Home Rule movement was launched in 1916 was also a similar mass movement against British rule.
  4. Indians were facing serious economic hardship in 1916 because items of common use were exported to meet the needs of armed forces as world war was going. The economic hardship also intensified the discontent against British rule and contributed to the launching of the Home Rule movement.
  5. The policy of repression and suppression being pursued by the British was also responsible for the launching of the Home Rule movement.
    • Defense of India Act, 1915 had replaced the normal law of the land. Extreme restrictions were in place whatever little freedom Indians enjoyed earlier were taken away after the outbreak of World War
    • The policy of repression and suppression had intensified anti-British discontent among the people. It was this discontent that came out in the form of the Home Rule Movement in 1916.
  6. After the demise of the Swadeshi movement and the atmosphere of pessimism that had developed in India, it had been almost 10 years since the launching of the mass movement. The morale of the people was going down. Leaders, like Mrs. Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, felt that if no mass agitation was launched immediately the morale of the people get shattered. It would be very difficult to launch any struggle against British rule.

Because of this, Mrs. Annie Besant and Tilak decided to launch the Home Rule movement immediately without waiting for the end of the war.

Aims and Objective of Home Rule movement

  1. The home rule movement was launched to popularise the idea of self-rule among Indians and to mobilize them in National struggle.
  2. This movement was launched to allow the discontent prevailing among the people to come out so that the anti-British struggle could be strengthened.
  3. Home Rule Movement leaders wanted to convince the government that grant to home rule in India would be in the larger British interest because self-ruled India would be in a better position to help Britain in war efforts.

Nature of Home Rule movement

  1. It was a peaceful constitutionalist mass moment. The Home Rule Movement leaders did not want to create any difficulty for Britain at a time when world war was going on. They wanted to put forward the demand in front of the government peacefully.
  2. The newspapers were used to mobilize the masses and to spread the idea of Home Rule among them.
    • Annie Besant used her newspaper New India and Commonwealth.
    • Tilak used his newspaper “The Maratha” and “The Kesari”.
  3. Rallies were organized, a train known as home rule special was hired to transport the Nationalists.
  4. Home Rule League was established all over India. More than 500 branches of the league were set up to mobilize the masses.
  5. Areas were divided between Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Besant. Maharashtra except Mumbai and Virar were under Tilak, other parts of India were under Annie Besant. This division of geographical areas was carried out to avoid any kind of conflict between the followers of their leaders.

British reaction to Home Rule League

  1. In spite of the fact that home rule was a peaceful constitutionalist mass movement and leaders did not want to create any difficulty to government, every effort was made by the British Indian government to curb the activities of the home rule league.
  2. The provision of newspaper 1908 and Indian Press Act 1910 were used to check the spread of Nationalist ideas through newspapers and journals.
  3. Annie Besant was put under house arrest to curb her involvement in Nationalist activities.

Significance and Impact of Home Rule Movement in India

  1. The Home Rule movement revived Nationalist activities in India. The atmosphere of political passivism prevailing in India for almost a decade was converted into political activism.
  2. The Home Rule movement witnessed massive mass support. It allowed the extremist to regain their lost mass base.
  3. The home Rule movement paved the way for the entry of extremists into Congress. In December 1916, the annual session of Congress was held at Lucknow and the extremist was are allowed to enter Congress.
  4. The Home Rule movement pushed the leaders of the moderate in the background forever and extremists emerged as a dominant force. The election of Annie Besant as president in 1917 revealed that Congress was firmly under the arrest of extremists.
  5. The movement builds immense pressure on British rule. Though it could not succeed in extracting home rule from the British immediately, it compelled the British government to change the policy.
  6. In August 1917, Lord Montagu, secretary of state of India, made an announcement popularly known as August declaration. This announcement emphasized that the ultimate objective of an ongoing process of constitutional reforms in India is to grant Dominion status to India.
  7. This declaration marked a fundamental shift in British policy in India. The demand of home rule was no longer considered a radical Revolutionary demand.
  8. The intensification of Nationalist sentiments was carried out by the home rule movement continued to give strength in the future and its chain of events ultimately culminated in the Liberation of India in 1947.

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